Anna Hogarth ’23 - Introduction

Zoom screenshot of me smiling, Octagon building in background

Hello! My name is Anna (she/her) and I am an environmental studies major from Summit, New Jersey (New York metropolitan area). A fun fact about me is that I have lived on the West Coast, Midwest, and East Coast, each for six years.

One of the many things I love about Amherst is that there are so many extracurriculars and on-campus jobs you can do. In the last year, I have become involved in the Office of Environmental Sustainability as an Eco Rep. I also joined the Multicultural Student Union, competed with the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, and stepped for DASAC. This year I also started working at the on-campus farm, and I learned how to drive a tractor!

This year, you can find me studying on a blanket outside, playing chess with my floormates, or eating dinner with friends as we watch the sunset over Amherst’s purple mountains.

Feel free to email me at with any questions! Ask me anything, from how much do you actually love Amherst (a lot) to how do you even pronounce Amherst?! (pssst, the h is silent!)

Choosing classes... so many choices!

Next week is pre-registration for spring semester courses and I am so torn! I sometimes feel like course registration week is a whole class unto itself because I spend so much time on the online course scheduler scrolling through all that Amherst has to offer, with so many options that I cannot decide what to pick.

Now I actually understand why in the Harry Potter series Hermione requested a magical time-turner so she could take multiple classes at the same time. 

I absolutely love being able to take whatever class I want in any department at Amherst. As someone who is easily excited by many disciplines, I have already taken courses in American Studies, Psychology, Political Science, Dance, Architecture, Environmental Studies, Economics, Statistics, and Geology. Every semester, I try to balance my four courses so that I am taking no more than two writing intensive courses and either a STEM or arts/creative class. Lots of my classmates do the same, and it is encouraged at Amherst to take at least one course every semester where you learn a little more about yourself or get your creative side engaged.

So what about next semester?

Okay, well at least I am absolutely positive I want to take ENST-260 Global Environmental Politics because it is one of the environmental studies major requirements and it seems really awesome. We are going to talk about so many interdisciplinary topics, give presentations, and have lots of small writing assignments.

And I very much want to take POSC-360 Punishment, Politics, and Culture which is taught by a professor that a few of my friends have taken classes with and highly admire. At a Zoom panel discussion on why democracy matters I was put into a breakout discussion room with this professor, and I really appreciated how he encouraged everyone to speak and balanced a serious conversation with real life examples and humor.

After these two classes, it is all up in the air. I have a long list of courses I am keeping an eye on and four of my favorites are listed below:

AMST-301 Architecture of Race

CHEM-110/ARHA-110 Color Study

A course on how you perceive color down to the molecular level! My advisor seemed really excited about this new course.

MUSI-126 Hip Hop History

Fun fact: students on financial aid can take one course in the music department and receive free music lessons!

POSC-307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

Luckily, I have two weeks during the beginning of spring semester to “shop” the classes and see which ones I like the most. This period is so helpful because there are such different classes at Amherst and it is important to know which one works best for you. Some are just a 3-hour class once per week, whereas some are shorter and every day. Some are very large classes and others are just a dozen students or so. Now with online learning, some are mostly pre recorded lectures and others are very hands on and interactive.

I am so excited to start registering for spring classes and take something I can truly be eager to learn about. Now, which ones to pick???

What can you do off campus?

Hi! I am so excited to write my very first blog post. 

I hope any prospective student reading this blog is managing their college applications without too much stress. You got this! Remember, the reward for your hard work (college!) makes the process worth it.

Location was very important to me when I was applying to college. Funny story: my mom told me to only apply to colleges within a 4 hour driving radius, so since I live in New Jersey, Amherst just barely made the cut. Phew!

You can visit a lot of fun places off campus at Amherst, especially considering it is not in a major city. Last year, I went on a lot of trips funded by the school to nearby places. I have decided to list them below. Overall, I really appreciate how Western Massachusetts has a healthy mixture of beautiful nature and creative and fun things to do, all while being just a few hours from major cities.

In town

Five of us are jumping in mid air and laughing on the bridge that crosses Connecticut River

Bike Path

I try to make a goal to go on the bike path at least once a week when I am on campus. The entrance is right behind the college's tennis courts and it is a fully paved, double laned path that cuts through forests, swamps, buildings, and the Connecticut River. If you go all the way down one end, you reach Northampton where Smith College is! My friends and I borrowed bikes from Amherst’s bike share program and took photos on the bridge.

Posing by Parasite poster

Amherst Cinema

This place is a hidden gem. Nudged behind a little alley in downtown Amherst, students can watch films here for free during certain days of the week. Last year, I saw JoJo RabbitParasite, and Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts. The college also got us memberships, so I got 5 free popcorns and lots of other little perks. 

Hadley Mall

A few friends and I took a free PVTA bus ride to Hadley Mall to rollerblade and go to Subway. Later, we signed up with Amherst student activities to go bowling. I would definitely go again, especially since it is only about 10 minutes away.

Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Outings

The frisbee team poses on the lawn for an impromptu silly photo.

With the frisbee team, I went to Williams College and Wellesley College for tournaments. I sat in the backseat of a car with four other people and got to know two sophomores really well. I had never played frisbee before college, so when I made a winning catch at the end zone, it was super uplifting. After we got back to campus, our teammates participated in a cake eating contest with other club sports. I also attended a Pioneer Valley Womxn’s Ultimate Frisbee Clinic, in which frisbee players from many surrounding colleges came together one Sunday at a giant indoor field and learned strategies. It was about an hour’s drive from Amherst.

Nature Outings

With the outing club I went white water rafting, rock climbing, and to a falconry. The rafting was through beautiful Massachusetts mountains, freshly orange from the turning leaves. I also signed up to go rock climbing at the local indoor rock wall. Lastly, we went to a falconry during a snowstorm to learn about birds of prey and then hold one on our arm. All events are paid for by the Outing Club, and all I had to do to secure a water rafting spot was help clean out their storage closet for one hour!

I stand next to a friend on a ski slope, smiling at the camera.


During March, I got to go skiing for the first time with the ski club! This was so much fun because not only was it so thrilling, but I befriended two really nice people. One was a senior from Moldova majoring in economics and psychology, and the other was a freshman like me. The three of us took an entire beginner course, then tried a very scary slope. Two days later, I learned that I would have to go home because of Covid-19, so I tried to remember that beautiful day as I packed up to go home. 

My friend and I are sitting on a canoe on a lake. My friend is taking the selfie and I am waving.


Every freshman gets to go sign up for a 3 day LEAP program before their first week of classes, and I chose the Social Justice and Leadership program. We went off campus to a campsite, where I got to go canoeing in addition to having meaningful conversations. 


New York City

Over interterm, I took a non-credit course called Collecting 101, which was hosted by the Mead Art Museum to teach us about art curation. At the end of the week, we presented 4 art pieces to a live audience to be added to the museum’s collection, and the audience voted on one piece to be added. For one night and one day, we were in New York City visiting print shops and galleries. The trip was only 3-4 hours each way!


Also over interterm, I took a bus to see a basketball game (Celtics vs Bulls) in Boston for a day!

Before concluding, I would like to add that while I had so much fun going off campus, there is so much to do on campus, too. Currently, I am forbidden from leaving campus because of the pandemic, and I have yet to become bored. Seriously!

Friends and Fall Festival

Today, I carved pumpkins and ate sweets with friends, and I could not help but feel super grateful that I am so close with them. As we sat in a circle listening to some live music, one friend said, “I wish I could freeze this moment.” Oh, how I relate.

Four friends standing at the farm holding carved pumpkins

It is wild that just a little over a year ago, when I was an incoming freshman, I was most nervous about whether I would make friends at college. After those first few weeks of meeting so many new people, it was so rewarding and quite exhausting. But it was the small campus, multitude of events, and emphasis on balancing academic and social life that helped me form great friendships at Amherst.

I believe it started with two friends from ultimate frisbee, a club sport on campus. Looking back, I am surprised that I made two close friends through a sport, but we ended up finding much more in common than the sport. To tell you a secret, we participate in the sport much less now than we used to. I also made many friends from my LEAP trip, my first year seminar, and my dorm floor. The perks of going to a small school is that I could easily reconnect with someone that I briefly met previously and then see again in the dining hall or other setting.

We sit in a circle on the lawn as one friend takes a selfie

This year, I have done a lot with my friends. We have gone on walks to riversides and wildflower fields.   
We have played multiplayer chess, joined online trivia games, made smoothies, picked up late night food at the dining hall, watched election debates, and drawn together. 

Today, we got to carve pumpkins because it was Fall Festival, Amherst’s annual day-long outdoor event with catered food, lots of hay bales, and picturesque bright orange trees. When we carved the pumpkins, I felt very comfortable around my friends. The moist smell of the pumpkin innards and the deep hollow sound of cutting the skin brought me back to childhood and family, so it was like we were all a family of friends. Looking back to freshman year, it is insane that I made such close friends in just a little over a year. It definitely wasn’t immediate, but during events like these I can definitely reflect and see my slow and steady growth.

Even though we may have lots of school work and things to get done, I appreciate that I was able to find joy in carving pumpkins with my friends.  

Tags:  blog-community 

How to drive a tractor

 This semester, I have the best job in the world. I am a student farmer for the Book and Plow Farm, Amherst College’s on campus full functioning farm! Once a week, I find myself planting delicate little lettuce seedlings, dumping crates of massive tomatoes into tubs of water, digging into the soft soil for purple potatoes, and -best of all- driving a tractor.

Sitting on a tractor

So, you want to drive a tractor in college, too? I know right, the appeal is so tempting. One day I am writing essays on climate change, calculating the opportunity cost of sustainable agriculture, and giving presentations on our international climate negotiations. Then the next morning, I go out in heavy boots and gloves and tend to the very soil I am learning to protect in my classes. Being able to do both at once is so satisfying.

Here is what to do if you want to drive a tractor while in college:

Step 1: Visit the farm to see if you like it. 

  • Take a walk from your dorm to the tennis courts. Then walk along the most beautiful, leaf carpeted path through a small forest -watch out for hidden tree roots! 
  • Emerge from the forest when you see a large expansive storage hanger. Another storage container painted with enlarged flowers will greet you with “Book and Plow.” You have arrived!
  • You MUST pick some flowers, first. Just about every Amherst student has come to the farm to pick flowers. Grab a pair of scissors from a handy bin and snip away. You can even munch on a cherry tomato or a spicy pepper while you’re at it! 
  • Pro tip: most people mistakenly ignore the herb garden. This is where you will go to pick mint leaves for your totally fabulous homemade tea that you will drink later tonight. 
  • Then, walk further until you reach the largest hill ever. Since you are at the top, you will see a beautiful view of a mountain range. If you are there in the morning, you will see the sunrise! 

Now pause and digest. If you are completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the farm, then please continue to step 2.

Step 2: Learn about the farm

  • This is a real farm with three full-time staff. They produce food that gets sent directly to the Valentine Dining Hall. By the way, it is so cool to stare at your glob of kale or roasted potato at dinner and proudly declare to your friends that you were the one who harvested and washed it.
  • Some food gets sent to CSA, which is their farm share. People who live nearby can pay for weekly pickups of this produce.
  • They also host lots of events and class visits for students. In freshman year, I went to the farm with my economics class and we did a fun hands on planting activity that related to a concept from class. I have also made dried pressed flower bookmarks and painted still life at the farm.

Step 3: Apply to be a student farmer

  • Working at the farm is actually a pretty competitive job. I’ll admit the first time I applied I could not get a shift. But just keep trying! I was finally able to get one this semester.
  • You will pick one shift a week. Mine is Tuesdays from 8:30am-12:00pm. You will work alongside two other classmates and a few full-time staff.

Step 4: Now submerge your senses and body into farm life.

There, you did it! Stay tuned for part two of this blog post next week!

Tags:  blog-jobs 

How to drive a tractor (part 2)

Ahhh, don’t you feel so powerful, sitting so high up on the tractor, going exactly .01 mile per hour along a straight path as you nervously reassure yourself that -yes- you most definitely can drive in a straight line and you will not squash any plants while doing so. No, just kidding, it was a little difficult but so so fun. I even got to take a right turn out of the row of lettuce when I was done! The driver’s license sitting on my dorm room desk was definitely proud of me at that moment.

Ok, now to get serious. Besides driving tractors, how has working at the farm helped me as a student and person?

  1. It gave me a more well rounded approach to my major: environmental studies. It is one thing to read about sustainable farming and global food problems. It is another to experience it. My boss has shown me the cover crops she plants, which are nitrogen rich plants that don’t get eaten but instead prime the soil and prevent erosion. Farm work is physically exhausting and demands so much time. I have a greater respect for farm work. Agriculture work deserves way more respect and attention than it gets in climate change dialogue.
  2. I can slow down and appreciate nature. Working with plants is extremely rewarding on the senses. Well, except for when you catch a whiff of a moldy gourd. Sometimes I stop and just stare at the way the water shines on the kale leaves or the way the soil is so soft and cold. Working at the farm grounds me as a human.
  3. The people are the deal breakers. My boss, who is the head of the farm, inspires me with her leadership. The two other staff at the farm are fun, supportive, talkative, and swift. They are also approachable. One of my friends who also works at the farm just casually had lunch with our boss a few weeks ago to catch up. They definitely care about you. And, it’s an all female staff, which is kind of awesome considering I would often associate the farmer role to be male.
  4. And, of course, I learn other work skills. Responsibility, accountability, quick thinking, good attitude, teamwork, you get the gist.

Now, are you ready to drive a tractor while at college?

Two students and one staff member fill boxes with vegetables for the farmshare.

Two student farmers and one staff farmer box up veggies to deliver to the farm share members.

An unfinished painting of a still life at the farm

My boss hosted a still life painting session at the farm. Here is an unifinished photo of the very peaceful scene.

Holding up my dinner with my friends also eating dinner in the background, sitting on farm hill

Eating dinner with friends at the hill at the farm. We are each sitting on our own picnic blanket because of Covid.

Pressed dried flower art

Some artwork that I made at a dried and pressed flower making workshop led by one of the farm staff. The flowers were grown and picked at the farm! The lettuce leaves are cut out from a magazine.

Picking cherry tomatoes

Picking some cherry tomatoes at the self-pick area of the farm. I ended up stir frying my veggies together for a late Friday night fun friend time.

Holding a bunch of flowers from the farm

A bunch of flowers hand picked from the farm. It is highly encouraged to pick flowers to add some liveliness and color to your dorm room.

My friend and I stand near a storage container at the farm that we helped spray paint

A selfie with a friend. We spray painted onto the side of a storage container at the farm, with the farm's permission, of course. The farm core site has lots of fun painted stuff on its equipment and it makes for a playful atmosphere. On another wall is a painting of a hillside where you can paint a little version of yourself doing a hilltime activity. My little person is flying a kite.

Multicultural Students' Union

About 25 MSU members sit and stand, arms around one another, smiling at camera. Two people in back wave their arms.

When I walked into my first Multicultural Students' Union meeting at Amherst last fall, I felt something I had never fully felt before: complete inclusion.

Amherst has lots of affinity groups for people of different races and ethnicities. They even have groups for people who identify as a certain race and a certain gender; Asian Student Association has an Asian Womxn’s Collective branch, for example. I am biracial, and I came to Amherst eager to learn more about race and find community. That was when I found Multicultural Students' Union (MSU), which is a club for multiracial/multiethnic/multicultural students and transracial adoptees. 

It was a late humid evening of Fall 2019 at Amherst. When I walked into MSU’s inaugural gathering I could tell that everyone wanted to simply be with each other and talk about something they rarely got to talk about, not even with their parents. There, people admitted their worry about not “looking” their identity or not ever feeling qualified to represent a race. There, everyone wanted to be together and move in solidarity in a place where they 100% belonged.

Over the course of the year at MSU, I went to a formal party in town, ate potstickers while talking about dating and race, and planned a photo installation featuring our MSU members in the student center. I felt so much more comfortable talking about being biracial that I wrote my final research paper in my first year seminar, Reading Asian-American, about the biracial identifier “Hapa Haole” and my experiences being half-Chinese. 

While it is not hard to find passionate club leaders at Amherst, I was still so impressed by the leadership at MSU. After we joined a somewhat difficult joint meeting with a few other affinity groups around colorism, MSU leaders gathered the participating members to debrief. We found a lounge space in the Student Resource Center and voluntarily talked late into the night about the topic. It was incredibly inspiring.

The leaders were so passionate about having discussions that over the summer, as the Movement for Black Lives gained more momentum, they voluntarily planned even more meetings to talk about what it means to be white-passing.

This fall, I was eager to take up a leadership position with the club. I tried for a new position, the On Campus Event Coordinator. This semester our club is split between members who are on campus and those who are off campus, so this person is in charge of planning some on campus events, especially with the Freshmen. Another student and I now share the position, and it has been wonderful. Not only did we plan a fun dinner that lasted for three hours, but we got to help plan the regular Zoom meetings with the entire club. My favorite meeting was on what it means to be white passing or benefit from colorism. I also received funding to host a s’mores making campfire event on campus, but unfortunately it ended up not working out because of the college’s increased Covid guidelines that week. Oh well, next time!

One thing I gained from being a member of this club that I ended up valuing way more than I expected was being able to befriend people from other years. I now know some freshman and juniors pretty well, and they are so cool. I feel I could definitely reach out to them for support or to hang out. Overall, being part of a close knit club, where I can develop leadership skills,  make new friends, and learn a bit more about myself has been quite a wonderful experience.

How Amherst can help you get a summer internship

Soon it will be the new year, and with January and February comes searching for summer internship opportunities! Last year as a Freshman, I did not know much about the internship search process, so at around this time I enrolled in a program at Amherst called the Charles Hamilton Houston Internship Program. This program provides students with workshops and opportunities to apply to paid internships with various organizations around the country. To get into the program, you just have to attend a few evening workshops, get my resume approved at Amherst’s Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning, and fill out a questionnaire. 

During the course of the year, I went to workshops on how to look for internships, write a resume, and prepare for an interview. They even hosted an internship “mixer” where you talked to upperclassmen about their internship process over crackers and cheese. Then, I scheduled a one on one meeting with an adviser at the Loeb Center, who gave me some advice on how many internships to apply to and where to look. Getting the resume approved was easy. I just had to walk into the library and have it looked over by a Peer Career Adviser, who is a student employed by the Loeb Center. Applying to internships definitely took time. Whenever the Loeb Center released their newsletter emails, I would scroll to the bottom to see what new internships they were highlighting. I also looked into the internships that Amherst offers, too. Two that really stuck out for me were with the Beneski Museum of Natural History and with the Book and Plow Farm, both right on Amherst’s campus. If you get the internship, then you can also live on campus with a dining plan for no cost. 

When I returned home in March because of Covid, I had to decide what to do during the summer. After weighing my pros and cons with the Loeb Center, I decided to accept a position posted by the Houston Program as a recruitment intern with Greenpeace USA, located in Washington D.C. Normally, I would be hesitant to take such an internship because it is located far away from home, but this summer it was entirely remote. So, I guess I completed my first college internship from my bedroom! Nonetheless, the internship was amazing and I learned so much. As an environmental studies major, it was a perfect way to see how what I learn at school can be applied to a job, too. 

If you are wondering about whether you can get a summer internship at Amherst, know that the Loeb Center will be there for you from start to finish. After just one year since beginning my first internship search process, I can say that they taught me a lot. With them, the very daunting idea of getting an internship was demystified. 

Now, off to go search for something to do next summer!

Interterm: A time for art making and reflection

A few nights ago, during January break, I found myself huddled in my bedroom, meticulously drawing the shoelace of a large lime green running shoe. This month, I am taking a for-credit course called Making Art in a Time of Turbulence and Upheaval, but only in three in a half weeks! It is part of a new schedule Amherst has developed to make taking classes less stressful during the Covid-19 pandemic. During the fall and spring semesters, we are allowed to take three courses instead of four, and during the month of January called Interterm, we are allowed to take one for-credit course. It’s quite a good idea.

All sorts of colleges had different plans for how to restructure the academic schedule with Covid. I personally am very excited that Amherst decided the best option was to provide another chance to take a course, because I don’t know if I would have taken an art course during the normal school year.

Some of my friends are taking interterm courses, too, such as Introduction to Psychology, Race, Place, and the Law, Guns in American Politics, and more. Others decided not to, but you can still be a teacher’s assistant, research assistant, join a reading group, or simply catch up on sleep and family time. It really is quite the flexible month.

This interterm course is just one of the many examples of the ways Amherst has tried to support its students during a challenging time. They have also been more lenient with their flexible grading option policies, constructed numerous tents so we could take classes and eat meals outside, and when we were getting a little tired out last fall semester with no long breaks, President Martin gave us a surprise “Mammoth Day” where classes were cancelled! I am so impressed with how she, Residential Life, and other leaders at Amherst have worked really hard to accommodate the students as much as possible and try to implement student feedback.

The professors have also worked really hard to make remote learning a little bit less unusual. The professor of my art class pre-recorded demonstrations of how to use the art materials that were shipped to us. We then spend two and a half hours every day looking at powerpoints of various contemporary and older artists from many backgrounds, discuss readings, and critique our artwork (the class liked my shoe painting!).

I am also in a reading group with a professor I am taking a class with next semester, which he voluntarily leads! Twice a week, the group doesn’t let a second of silence go by on the Zoom screen as we eagerly discuss the current state of America’s democracy.

Sometimes I surprise myself that I also volunteered to stay up all night scrolling through supreme court cases or painting 8 watercolor collages in 3 days. It is definitely the contagious enthusiasm and dedication of the professors that makes me enjoy every second of it. 

Tomorrow’s plans? Carve a wood print, discuss identity politics, and maybe cuddle with my dog on the couch while watching a couple of TV episodes with my mom. I’m so excited!

A watercolor of wisps of smoke, overlain with a cut out drawing of a lime green running shoe

The running shoe watercolor and colored pencil art piece, one of the assignments for my interterm class.

I am taking a walk through a winter field with trees and my bichon frise dog

Taking a walk with my family and dog. Interterm is also a time to relax and rejuvenate before spring semester.

Trying out geology

Sitting on a large rock at the park in new jersey, in t-shirt, smiling down at camera

I must confess. Because of Amherst, I now LOVE rocks. Ask any of my close friends, and they can recall times where we were calmly walking around campus when suddenly I see an exciting rocky staircase or boulder and squeal with delight. One friend has even captured an extremely embarrassing photo of me crouching, my face just inches above a stone inlaid path on campus, proudly declaring that it looks like a granite intrusion!

Don’t worry. My admiration for rocks was not always this severe. I was only this dangerously addicted to rocks because I had taken an Introduction to Geology course during the spring semester of my freshman year. And it’s not just me. The geology department at Amherst College is notorious for converting a very large number of students into rock lovers after they take the intro course. Geology is an elemental part of our school. The Amherst mascot, a mammoth, stands in our natural history museum. Amherst’s third president was a legendary geologist. Of course the geology department has to be good. Let’s all say it. The geology department rocks.

How did Geology 111 convert me into a rock lover?

  1. For an introductory hard science class, Intro Geology was very intimate. My geology class consisted of twelve people, and we had three professors. That’s a 1:4 student-faculty ratio! PLUS we were divided into two separate lab sections with even fewer students! 
  2. We were surrounded by professors who were enthusiastic and kind. These professors really took the time to get to know us and support us. Before exams, they held review sessions long into the night. They brought us muffins and warm drinks to wake us up during our 8am lab. They let us retake mineral identification quizzes over and over until we could identify every single one of our 37 minerals in our mineral tray. They cracked jokes while also being extremely dedicated. It was a really inclusive environment.
  3. It was a hands-on class. I have to be honest. I initially was not signed up for the geology course during the first week of classes but decided to drop in on the first day to see if I liked it. Then, just a few hours later, I was walking up to my dorm room with a tray full of my very own minerals that I got to keep in my room! How was I supposed to tell the professors that I wanted to drop the class now? Not only that, but every day during class there were always boxes of rocks within arms reach of our desks, so we could examine one as the professor was teaching us about it. Our lab took place in a room literally covered in rocks. There were rocks all along the tables, there were photos of rocks on the walls, models of rocks, drawers of rocks...even the floors of the Beneski Building where we had class were made of beautiful cuts of rock. Also, while I was not able to experience much of this due to the pandemic, usually students go on a multitude of field trips, and some even got to go to Hawaii for a week with a few professors!
  4. Even remote class was awesome. When we had to return home in March due to the pandemic, the professors shipped us boxes of rocks. They then travelled to different locations and filmed themselves giving field trips. They put a lot of work into making the course as good as it could be given the circumstances. 


Final project papers and small rock samples on desk

Even though I really enjoyed the class, I am not a geology major. I chose environmental studies instead, and am still happy with my decision, but I know that I will always continue taking geology courses during my time at Amherst. Some geology courses even count as environmental studies major electives! Professors here encourage you to take classes outside of your major and explore. I am almost certain that I can take any class in the geology department as a non-major, and that is the case for all of the departments at Amherst. 

So, I actually approached my professor after class to ask her about the rocks outside of my dormitory, and she knew the exact ones I was talking about. She told me to go examine it even closer and try and guess what the other rocks were. However, when we were told to return home to study remotely, I never went back to examine the rocky path. So, up to now, there will always be some rocky step outside James Dormitory that I have still struggled to identify. How’s that for a fun fact about Amherst!

Mineral Tray

On campus fun

In two weeks, I will be returning back to campus, and I am very excited. It’ll be different from last semester. I’ll be in a different dorm building, and our friend group got a little split up this semester across buildings, too. As a little backstory, most sophomores were initially not invited back on campus for the spring semester because they could only offer spots to 1,200 students because of the pandemic. Therefore, I was on the waitlist to return back, and luckily enough spots opened up that I was invited back! We weren’t able to keep our group together in the same dormitory, but those who wanted to return are back and that is what matters.

As I am starting to think about packing again, I think a lot about how much fun I had with my friends last semester. I was in a group of ten last semester that spent a LOT of time together. We all had our own little corner of the dorm with a somewhat private lounge space and lots of greenery outside.

Even though we weren’t able to leave campus last semester, we were still able to entertain ourselves a lot. We spent a lot of time outside in the beautiful fall weather, or huddling next to heat lamps when it got colder. When we were indoors, we would play virtual scavenger hunt, trivia, and bingo games put on by student activities. We also played a ton of chess or went to the dining hall to pick up snacks during their late night hours. Even during a very restricting pandemic, my social life was surprisingly very healthy (don't worry, my academic life was very much present too). 

sitting on a hill during mammoth day

Here we are (minus two people, photo credits to Olivia!) sipping apple cider on the Memorial Hill overlooking the baseball fields and October mountains. This was during Mammoth Day, where President Martin cancelled classes to encourage us to take a one day break from work. We also played corn hole and took a walk through the bird sanctuary to a poetry box. Not pictured: yummy pastries, which are in our stomachs.

posing on the tennis court

Playing tennis with two more friends, one of whom I met on the tennis court this year. Every Saturday, we played tennis at 11:00am and then ate lunch together. It was such a great start to the weekend. When it got cold, we tried to go to the gym instead.

sitting in the lounge drawing each other

Drawing each other! Normally the art department hosts twice-weekly figure drawing sessions, but because they could no longer do it with the pandemic, we recreated our own. This is our little semi-private lounge space.

A little firepit on the val quad, eating mac and cheese bites at night

Enjoying the warm fire pit on the Valentine Quad, eating late night mac-n-cheese bites. In the photo you can see an adirondack chair, the unofficial school sitting implement, a tent where we ate meals and took classes, and a boxed water, which is the iconic sustainable water bottle alternative that Amherst distributes.

sitting/lounging outside of the dormitory we lived in

A rare photo of Cohan Dormitory, my new favorite dorm on campus (although my first year dorm, James, is a close second). We ate a lot of meals on various lawns around campus when the weather was good.

Tags:  blog-student life 

Fall tents!

We sit in an outdoor tent, masked, for psychology discussion

You may or may not relate to what I am about to say. When I was applying to college, sometimes the school’s academics were not what came to mind first when comparing them. Sometimes what came to mind was the long main quad, weird curving cement paths, the single dining hall that was super loud and full of joy, a unique mascot, or maybe the quirky tour guide who played guitar and signed the back of my admissions center business card. 

-By the way those are all describing my experiences touring Amherst!-

But sometimes, I forgot that some of the most important things to consider when picking colleges are the academics. I mean, that’s why you are going to college, right? So, now I would like to talk about my experiences taking some classes at Amherst this year.

This past fall, I took four classes: an introductory statistics course, ecology, an American politics course, and social psychology. Looking back, I think I made a mistake in selecting only science-y classes. I didn’t mix it up with a writing intensive class or a super unique class like Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice or Reading Asian-American (two classes I took in Freshman year!). But, they still pushed me in new ways that maybe a writing intensive class would not have. 

Some cool fun facts about my fall classes:

Statistics 111
There were only six people in the class!!!
My professor used to work at the CDC (and even showed us some of her work researching HIV/AIDS treatments)
The class fulfills a requirement for my environmental studies major, but the material is very useful to know for any major
This was such a difficult class.
I got a final grade that was significantly lower than I thought I would get going into it, but I am very proud of it because I worked so hard in that class.
My professor held office hours every single day of the week. That’s some dedication.
American Politics
I now think of political current events in a much more complex way. Now I can argue different pros and cons to the filibuster, the logistics behind nominating a supreme court justice, and can pull out a few pieces of evidence for how racism and polarization lead to disenfranchisement and why it’s a problem
We had this class outside in a tent! We even had class in the rain once. It was quite atmospheric. 
The latest I ever stayed up doing homework that semester was for this class, and it was 1:20 a.m.
Social Psychology
The professor started each discussion section asking each of us to share our highs and lows of the week. It was definitely a high of the week.
She brought us muffins once, too!
She was really flexible with changing the format of the course with Covid, so that the class involved pre-recorded lectures, no exams, a creative final assignment, and smaller discussion sections.

I also took an art class over the college’s first all-online January term period (which could possibly become a yearly thing at Amherst, who knows!). It was absolutely amazing. It was a great break from my (social) science laden fall workload. Here, the professor made us take risks, be bold, and take inspiration from many different places. I loved her powerpoint presentations and our group critiques. Ah, I will miss that class (although maybe not the time spent in the bathroom scrubbing ink off my hands).

Well, I hope this offers you a little perspective into what taking some classes at Amherst is like. Of course, I was a little goofy for some of the points (I came away from psych class with much more than a stomach full of muffin, for example). If you want the meaty academic stuff, I recommend scrolling through a course catalog or reading a few articles about how students were able to do so much in their classes.

Wow, just a few more days until spring semester starts! Good luck with your spring studies, you got this!

First Week Back

Three of us sit on sleds on a snowy hill, arms raised

The spring semester has started, and I just finished my first week of classes. It was quite an exhausting week, full of waiting, trying things out, and a lot of personal time.

The weekend before classes was when everyone who was coming back to campus got to move in. I moved in on Friday, and most of my friends moved in on Sunday. During that time I had to pretty much stay entirely in my dorm room, only leaving to get food and get Covid tests. On Sunday, the country was hit with a large cold storm, and four of our friends/boyfriends’ flights were cancelled. That was so unfortunate! 

On Monday, I went to breakfast and discovered that they upgraded the Valentine Dining Hall options since last semester! I got myself an egg and sausage sandwich on an English muffin, and a yogurt parfait. Then, I went back to my room and logged into Zoom class. I “shopped” two geology courses and went to a longer afternoon architecture seminar. 

On Tuesday through Friday, I continued to take and shop classes. I also did some small workouts on the floor of my room, submitted a few job applications, and looked forward to getting tested or getting food, which was when I could see my friends in person. On Thursday night, I went to “Late Night” which is when the dining hall serves fast-food type food between 9:30 and 11:00 pm. We picked up pizza and ice cream!

On Friday afternoon, after everyone who had moved in received their third Covid test, we were allowed to see each other and hang out! My friends and I were so excited. We got dinner and ate it in the common room of our dorm, and then we talked and talked and talked until past midnight. 

On Saturday, today, we went sledding! It was so fun. Memorial Hill is great for sledding down, as well as another hill nearby with lots of bumps. It reminded me happily of when I went sledding in Freshman year after Thanksgiving Break, although we were sad that not all of our friends could come. Some were still unable to come to campus yet because of the weather! After getting satisfyingly bruised, out of breath, and exhausted from the sledding, we swung by the library so I could pick up some books on hold for classes, and then we changed and picked up lunch. Then, I hopped onto a virtual get involved fair table for Multicultural Students’ Union (I am on the e-board!) and had another quick Zoom meeting with a professor. After dinner, we went back to our rooms to do a few hours of school work. Tonight, we are planning on hanging out and chatting a bit more. 

So far, I am starting to feel the heavy load of school work coming. To give you a sense of things, for the rest of this weekend and Monday, I need to read one book and 2 chapters of another book, write a 400 word response, read a few articles, and draft up an application for a summer research opportunity. Lots to do!

Catch you next weekend!

Dorm Life

Since you are not able to go on campus or in dormitories to see what dorm life is like this year, I hope that I can bring some to you. Below, you can find some photos that I have taken in the past few weeks during my time on campus. 


Let's start with my dorm room! This semester I live in Moore Dormitory, which is right next to the dining hall. It's in such a great location, close to the art building, Beneski natural history museum, and just a small walk to the first year quad, which houses the library. Here I have a single, and it has super super tall ceilings and a giant window. The room reminds me of an apartment studio loft. I brought a few (well, 11, to be specific) plants from home to sprinkle throughout the room.

A hallway in Moore dormitory

Now we enter the hallway! Hmmm...I can't think of much to say here. It's a pretty functional hallway.

three sinks and three mirrors in a Moore bathroom

Here is a bathroom in Moore. For some reason when people tour dorms, they always like to peak into bathrooms and closets and stuff. A piece of advice: please don't make your college decision based on what you thought about the bathroom. Nonetheless, here is a photo, in case you are interested. There's four bathrooms on my floor, and it has been PLENTY. I've yet to experience a time where I could not shower or use the sink because the bathroom was full. Moore has super hot water, by the way.

A gender inclusive bathroom sign

All of the bathrooms on my floor are gender inclusive, meaning all folks can use it regardless of their gender. There are no women's or men's bathrooms on my floor, but some other floors have them. When filling out housing forms, you can select whether you would prefer to be near a gender inclusive bathroom, a women's bathroom, a men's bathroom, or have no preference.

Fourth floor lounge in Moore

Here is the lounge on my floor! It has a working fire place, three tables, and a random coffee table. The views out of the window face the beautiful mountains. My friends and I like to eat meals here (since currently we cannot eat in the dining hall due to covid). 



This is a photo of my breakfast from the dining hall, which I ate in the lounge with my breakfast buddy. We try and get breakfast every weekday at 9:15am, which we consider early compared to some of our other friends' wake up times. I have a much harder time waking up that early on the weekends. The bubble tea is normally not a breakfast regular, but it was leftover from late night that they gave away for breakfast.

Me playing pool at a blue pool table in a common room in Moore

Now we enter the third floor lounge. It is awesome. It is really large with long hanging lamps, arm chairs, and a pool table. This past Friday I played pool with three others and it was really fun.


As we walk down the stairs, don't forget to take a peak out the window at the beautiful sunset over the small mountains surrounding Amherst. What color do you think the mountains are? I heard that Amherst's color is purple because the mountains glow purple at sunset, but don't quote me on that.

First floor lounge in Moore

Okay this is a horrible photo, but I could not walk into the first floor lounge because there were people in it! In that little "pit" there were people playing some sort of video game, and in the larger common room people were projecting something onto the wall. The environmental studies major in me has to note the beautiful compost, recycling, and trash bins in the photo.

A cardboard cutout of Trevor Noah in Val Dining Hall

Now we walk into the dining hall, where I frequent 3-4 times a day. One time I walked in and saw a cardboard cut out of Trevor Noah, who was invited to speak to us and a few other schools a few weeks ago! I watched the livestream with my friend in my dorm. He is so precise and simple when talking about such big topics. He said we laugh because we find a truth to what the person said. I had never thought about laughter in that way. I believe that we laugh because we get very quickly scared by something but then recover when we realize we are safe, and we release by laughing. 


Now we walk a little ways to the first year quad. I took this picture of a tent because I thought it showed the strange sights of going to school during a global pandemic. Here is a classroom tent, complete with a white board, outlets, and desks, exposed to deep snow. But hey, whatever it takes to keep learning on campus, I'll take it!


Now we journey to the Powerhouse, which is a versatile event space. We are playing mini golf, hosted by student activities. It took 20 minutes on a Saturday evening and it was super sweet and fun. It just felt good to be in a space with loud music and a decent number of people after being in quarantine for so long. 


Here we come to the last spot for today. This isn't really in the dorm anymore, but it is technically on campus, so it counts. I am taking a hydrogeology class this year, so our lab this week was collecting data in a river! We got to put on hip waders and shuffle into the icy cold water. Nonetheless, it was so awesome. I walked there and back with some juniors and they almost persuaded me to double major in geology. Almost.

Well, that comes to the end of the tour! I was thinking of doing a second tour of some fun academic spots around campus, so be on the lookout for that!

tour map

Here is a map of where you were "taken" on this tour. Not included is the trip to the river, which is far off the map down and to the right.

Sports Versus Art

Week of March 15 Madness 

This week, I surrounded myself with sports and art. Which took up the most time during my week? I decided to set up this week’s blog post like a pretend basketball game. The teams are ART versus SPORTS. Which team will garner the most points?

Wednesday: 1 HOUR for SPORTS:

It was the first week of March Madness, a big college basketball tournament, so a friend encouraged us all to fill out brackets. I had never filled one out before, and I don’t follow college basketball, so I predicted which teams would win based on which mascot would win in a fight. That took one hour of my evening.

Friday: 2 HOURS for SPORTS:

A bunch of us crowded into someone’s dorm room and put on the basketball game. We made so much noise and it was so fun! 

OH NO! There was a turnover! It turns out that I was doing art at the same time that I was watching sports.

3 HOURS for ART:

While watching the basketball game, I started working on an extra credit assignment for my Architecture of Race class. My professor wants us to submit an entry into the Solidarity Book Project that Amherst is putting on as part of its bicentennial. To show solidarity with Black and Indigenous communities, an art professor at Amherst is encouraging us to cut/sculpt a fist into the side of a book that has shaped our understanding of solidarity. I chose Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. 


A photo of my book that I sculpted. A fist of solidarity is cut into the pages.

Saturday: 1 HOUR for ART:

I went with two other friends to the Mead Art Museum to pick up paint-by-number art kits that were handed out by the museum. Then we walked around the galleries and looked at the art. We were given little paper hearts to place at a piece of art that we liked the best. 

Standing in an art sculpture (which was allowed) at the Mead. Stain glass windows behind me, and my arms are outstretched

(Image: I am standing on a sculpture in the Mead Art Museum. Don't worry, it was allowed!)

1 HOUR for ART:

Later in that afternoon, I walked over to another dormitory lounge to draw some cards as part of an event for a club. These cards went to adults with developmental disabilities who have weekly Zoom sessions with some students on campus. Clubs have been a lot more active this semester, trying to plan events that are in-person. For this event, the leader put on some music and got funding to give us bubble tea. 

1 HOUR for ART:

That evening, I worked on a homework response for my architecture class. We first had some readings about museums, art, and race. Then, we had to view a virtual museum gallery (I chose the Mead Art Museum) and critique its exhibit based on our readings. P.S. the Mead Art Museum has really great virtual exhibitions right now. You can use your mouse to move around the gallery and click on the artwork. You can view the little labels under the art as well as watch videos of the artists talking about their work.



Today I threw a frisbee with a friend and another person that we ran into who is also in my shift at the Book and Plow Farm and in one of my classes. The three of us went onto the first-year quad and tossed the frisbee under the sunny blue sky. The quad was packed, too! It was one of the first warm days of spring and a lot of people were out sitting in Adirondack chairs talking and doing homework. 


Tonight I watched a little more basketball on TV with some more friends in my dorm room. We sat around and did some light homework while cheering on the teams that we selected in our brackets. 

Now let’s tally up the scores. It looks like I spent 5 hours on sports and 6 hours on art. ART WINS!

I hope you enjoyed my “basketball” game of ART versus SPORTS. Catch you next week!